Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Being a Parent is NOT for the Weak!

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding positions I have ever filled.  I get "paid" with hugs, kisses, and lots of love and smiles.  As a mom of three, I am constantly on the go.  My children are 8, 5, and 2.  As the school year winds down, my husband and I were faced with one of the most difficult decisions we've had as a parent thus far.

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Let me back up a bit and tell you that Tyler started Kindergarten only 9 days after his 5th birthday.  He cried the first three weeks of school EVERY day.  The first day of school he cried over an hour in class.  It was a difficult transition for him even though he had gone to daycare/preschool most of his life!!  At the beginning of the year he began to have troubles in class.  He has a hard time focusing.  Instead of doing his work, he's daydreaming about recess and P.E.  Halfway through the school year, his teacher told me that she could tell he was working hard and we were studying hard at home.  She said that unless something drastic happened between Christmas break and the end of the year, she thought he would be okay to move on to 1st grade, although Summer school was a good idea to keep him on track.  I was elated to know that he was doing so well because to be quite honest, I had gone into the year with the realization that more than likely he would be repeating Kindergarten.

Now, we're back to present day.  Last week, on my Tuesday volunteer day the teacher asked me to go over sight words with the kids each individually.  I was happy to do so.  When it came to my son, unfortunately he was below basic on his recognition of the sight words that we'd worked so hard on earlier in the year.  I was immediately concerned.  By the end of the day his teacher had contacted me not only about the sight words, but about his reading scores for the end of the year as well.  He had only moved up one reading level (which is where he should have been around Christmas break).  We immediately scheduled a conference with her.

Brien and I met with the teacher the very next day during the children's activity period.  I tried to hold it in, but I could do nothing but cry as we tried to decide his fate.  I could only think of all of his friends moving on to 1st grade and him having to start all over again next year if we hold him back.  I left the school, got in my car and cried...I cried to myself and I cried out to God to give us the answers we need on whether or not we should hold him back.  The teacher left the decision up to us, saying her gut told her to hold him back because of his age.

Over the next few days, Brien and I talked to each other, we talked to Tyler and we sought the advice of friends and family who know Tyler well.  I am so thankful for my preacher's wife who is also an educator.  I took her Tyler's writing samples, sight word recognition, and reading scores.  She shed a lot of light on things for both my husband and myself.  She said that if it were her son she would definitely retain him this year.  She made very valid points about his age and maturity level.  If we were to send him on to 1st grade, he would be starting out behind!  We already struggle with trying to study and keep up.  1st grade is more work, harder work, and more responsibility so we're basically starting out behind the 8 ball so to speak.

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After talking with her, Brien and I came home and talked to Tyler and he seemed to be excited about NOT going to summer school and repeating Kindergarten.  We did explain to him that his friends would move on to 1st grade but that he would be able to make new friends...and that the friends that he plays baseball with would probably be starting Kindergarten next year and that he might have some of those friends in his class!  He was very excited about that fact.

It was a hard decision...probably one of the most difficult ones I've had to make concerning my little Tyler thus far.  I know they will only get more difficult!  But, the reason I post it here is just in case someone else might be going through the same thing.  Just know that you are not alone.  I know it is tough to know that this one decision you make will have a direct effect on his entire academic life!  We were in constant prayer and sought lots of advice from friends and families.  It was not a decision that we entered into lightly.  We are happy with our decision and feel like it will be the best decision for him.  Only time will tell.

7 comments, add yours here:

Kathy said...

Tish,

You absolutely positively did the RIGHT thing.
I speak from experience as we had our youngest repeat kindergarten.
She cried EVERY day the first year.

Unfortunately we sent her on to 1st grade. She struggled so hard to do the work. It was so sad to see her hate school. She cried EVERY day. I knew that if she continued on that path she would be a drop out at some point. I cringed at that thought.

After the first progress report and discussion with the teacher we felt it best to put her back in Kindergarten. She still cried EVERY day the second year.

It was a terrible mistake on my part to have pushed her into something she wasn't prepared for, 1st grade. Only to have to remove her from the class and replace her in Kindergarten.

She's 24 this year and if I have a regret, it is that I waited to late and put her through that.

The good thing about children, they adapt. She was ahead of the class. She became the helper and mentor and she graduated from kindergarten and went into first grade all the way through HS. Not necessarily at the top of the class but she liked school and did her best in most areas ;-)

I can relate to your tears. I cried and cried. I had been a terrible parent, I failed my child.
In reality, I did the best thing ever for her and I would do it again if I had to repeat my life. I just wouldn't have waited so long to realize what she needed for HER, not for me(good parents don't let their children fail mindset).

Awesome parents do the hard things for their children's best interests. Like shots, saying "No" etc.
Don't beat yourself up.
YOU ARE an AWESOME parent.

Becca said...

It is amazing what a difference a year makes. Tyler looks so little in his picture from the first day of school. I really think you did the right thing and I KNOW you are an awesome mom!

Crazy Working Mom said...

Thanks, Kathy for your (always) insightful advice! It has been really tough on us and I feel like I have "failed" Tyler this year because he has fallen behind. But, we can't change things...he is behind and we have to move forward. I am afraid that putting him in 1st grade will be a mistake causing him to either miserably fail there or be sent back to K. So, we'll go from here and pray that this is the right decision. Only time will tell. I think that putting him in Summer School will make life miserable for all involved, to be honest! Giving him a break and then letting him catch up next year is a sure fire recipe for success! :)

Crazy Working Mom said...

Becca, when I posted those pics I thought the SAME thing! It's just crazy how much he has grown. Shelby too!!!

Callie Ann said...

yep am going thru it...Jack just turned 5 may 3 he hasn't had preschool I just enrolled him.. he doesn't have any of the basics down... they are testing him next week. We will probably hold him back from starting.. It was nice to read this story... I can't believe how big he has gotten.. wow

Jo said...

Hey, my first time reading your blog but since we’ve just through a similar thing I thought I would leave my 2 cents worth.
Long story short, our son was 2 when we moved to Belgium but since he only started talking after 2 and was in a French kindergarten from 2½ we didn’t think he would have any problems. He stared 1st year in September, but only turned 6 in October. All this year he’s been struggling with his reading, he also has some vocabulary issues (he speaks 3 languages so I’m not too worried about this bit). So also after meeting up with the teacher & principal we decided to keep him back after the summer and let him repeat 1st year.
He just seems to be too young and not quite ready for the hard work (prefers to daydream or play). My cousin, who happens to be a grade school teacher, explained to me that we must just remember that it’s the same when you compare babies born in the same year but on either ends of the year … there is quite a big difference. So good luck and enjoy the summer.

Crazy Working Mom said...

Hey Jo, thanks for putting in your 2 cents. That is certainly why I posted this here! I wanted others to know that they weren't alone in this journey. This was the toughest decision we've had to make thus far with Tyler and I know they will get tougher, but IMO there was no need in making things so hard on him right from the start. Hopefully another year of Kindergarten will make him an overall better student. We'll see...

Thanks for stopping by!